from If & When

Marvin Bell’s recent books include Vertigo: The Living Dead Man Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2013 )and Whiteout (Lodima Press, 2011), a collaboration with photographer Nathan Lyons. The selections from “If & When” in this issue continue Bell’s poetic correspondence with Christopher Merrill, earlier exchanges from which were collected in After the Fact: Scripts & Postscripts (White Pine Press, 2016).

Christopher Merrill has six poetry collections; many works of translation and edited volumes, among them The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature (1991) and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon (1993, reissued 1998); and six books of nonfiction, most recently Self-Portrait with Dogwood (Trinity University Press, 2017). His work has been translated into nearly forty languages and his honors include a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government. As director of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, he has undertaken cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries.

How to Fix a Broken Heart, or The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths

Rebecca Emlinger Roberts’ essays, short stories, and poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, including the Massachusetts Review, the Antioch Review, and (three times previously) the Georgia Review. One of her GR essays, “The Art of Looking Down” (Fall 2008), was listed as a notable essay in the 2009 edition of Best American Essays. 

Boy on Living Room Floor, 2015

Elias Altman is a literary agent at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, and his essays and reviews have been published by the Nation, the Columbia Journalism Review, and Lapham’s Quarterly.

Inside the Conch Shell

Fleda Brown’s The Woods Are On Fire: New & Selected Poems will be out from the University of Nebraska Press in 2017. A former poet laureate of Delaware, she lives in Traverse City, Michigan, and is on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program in Tacoma, Washington. 

What a Fine Thing It Would Be

Clifford Thompson is the author of Twin of Blackness: A Memoir (2015) and Love for Sale and Other Essays (2013)—both from Autumn House Press—and a novel, Signifying Nothing (2009). He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches creative nonfiction writing as an adjunct all over the place.

Eye Level in Iraq

Kael Alford earned an MA from the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Journalism and was a 2009 Neiman Fellow at Harvard University. She is represented by Panos Pictures in London and lives in Dallas, Texas.

The Course of History

Dear Folks: Letters Home, 1964-72

Richard Hugo’s twenty-odd books (two of them posthumous) include The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir (1973), The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing (1979), The Right Madness on Skye (1980), and The Real West Marginal Way: A Poet’s Autobiography (1986). Born in White Center, Washington, on 21 December 1923, Hugo served as a bombardier in the Mediterranean during World War II. When he returned home he enrolled at the University of Washington, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in creative writing. After working as a technical writer at Boeing for thirteen years, Hugo was hired at the University of Montana, where he taught for almost eighteen years. He died on 22 October 1982, at the age of fifty-eight.

Letter to William Sutton

Erskine Caldwell (1903–1987) published twenty-six novels, sixteen collections of short stories, fifteen books of nonfiction, two children’s books, and a collection of poetry in a literary career that spanned seven decades. Born in Coweta County, Caldwell attended Erskine College and the University of Virginia,  beginning to write in earnest while at the latter. Two early stories caught the attention of legendary editor Maxwell Perkins, leading to the publication of Caldwell’s first book, the short story collection American Earth (1931). His two most notable titles are Tobacco Road (1932), considered by many critics to be one of the top one hundred English-language novels of the twentieth century, and God’s Little Acre (1933), which has sold over fourteen million copies. In 1984 Caldwell was elected to the fifty-chair body of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. According to the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, his books have sold more than 80 million copies and have been translated into 43 languages. (Inducted as a charter member in 2000)